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SC field hockey wins third straight district title

by on November 01, 2018 10:39 AM

STATE COLLEGE — Field hockey has one of the shortest seasons in high school sports. In just under two months and 19 games, the State High field hockey team improved themselves in everything on and off the field, impressing head coach Beth Mink along the way.

And, their play was impressive enough to earn them their third straight District 6 title.

“In the two years that I’ve been head coach, the growth that I’ve seen from these girls, that I started coaching in middle school even, has been phenomenal," said Mink. "That’s all credit to them and their willingness to want to get better. Not because they have to, but because they want to.”

The league the Lady Little Lions play in is a notoriously competitive conference and division. Even against such difficult competition, the team stepped up and grew after every game.

The team finished its regular season 9-9-1 overall and 7-5-0 in league play — improving over an 8-10 season the year before.

“Considering we compete in such a consistently strong conference and district that produces many Division I field hockey players each year, we did very well,” said Mink. “The games that we lost were all to top teams, and we competed with them. All the teams that weren’t as competitive or were definitely weaker, we certainly excelled in those games.”

The Lady Little Lions’ performance during the regular season made them District 6 champions for the 2018 season for the second season in two years under Mink and a third in 2016. 

The District 6 champions were then scheduled to take on the champions from District 3, the district that has produced the last five state champions.

“This is our first year that we’ve had to compete in (District 3),” said Mink. “We lost in the first round, Wednesday (Oct. 24) to a very good Exeter Township team, 0-4.”

Though Exeter ended the team’s season, multiple players were recognized for their play. Senior midfielders Kelsey Love and Sally Stahl both earned Mid Penn All-Star First Team selections. Junior Libby Fortin and sophomores Rebecca Bonness, Jojo Lee, Maddie Tambroni and Kyra Whitlark each earned honorable mentions.

The two seniors will continue their athletics careers in college. Love is committed to Penn State to play field hockey, while Stahl is committed to the UMass lacrosse team. State High’s senior goalie, Grace Biddle, also has committed to play collegiate field hockey at Bates College in 2019.

In all, the team will graduate eight seniors in the spring, including captains Stahl, Biddle and Ava Whitlark.


Mink and her coaching staff made sure to spend time with their team working on things they’d need once they put down their sticks.

“My coaching staff and I stressed a lot to the girls, since the middle of August when we started, that we wanted to focus on growing as a team and growing as individuals,” said Mink. “All 37 girls between the varsity and JV squads totally exceeded that expectation.”

“It made my job so much easier because my staff and I could teach them things way beyond field hockey. Things that you need for life, because not all of our players have aspirations to play collegiately.”

With the team graduating eight senior leaders this spring, teaching these things to them and the rest of the team was important to Mink.

“The most rewarding part for me is knowing that when these girls are out in public or they’re at an away event and these athletic directors and these coaches say ‘your girls represent State College so well,’” said Mink. “They’re respectable, they’re saying ‘thank you,’ they’re saying and they’re acting appropriately for young girls. That speaks volumes of their character and how they were raised as young girls.”

Those lessons also will help the three rising seniors; Libby Fortin, Kendall Kleinman and Morgan Marshall have the confidence to take over that leadership role along with rising juniors Bonness, Lee, Tambroni and Kyra Whitlark.

Heading into next season, Mink hopes to add to the improvements the team made during the second half of this season.

“Our future is playing in District 3,” said Mink. “Even though we finished on a loss, how we finished this season structurally and tactically we need to build on that for next year and that has to happen throughout the winter, throughout the spring, so that when we all come back together in August it’s not such a shock.”

For next fall, Mink has high expectations for the Lady Little Lions.

“(In 2019 our goals are) winning District 6 again and going further in the District 3 playoff,” said Mink.


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